Category: Team Dynamics


A Picture of Servant Leadership

I’ve had it in my head for the last while about servant leadership. In Christian circles, we are generally familiar with the term. Outside of that, it might be a little confusing. The basic premise is that in order to lead (that is to influence others) in a healthy way, you have to serve them.

The misconceptions abound, and I think that is why I wanted to hit this topic. Jesus was the perfect example for a lot of things…and real solid leadership was one of those things. Here are a few things that Jesus did, and how we can learn from them.

1. He didn’t just give people what they wanted.

Jesus came and delivered a message that was hard for some people to grasp, and even harder for them to live with. The Jews to this point were obsessed with rituals, rites of passage and procedures because that was how they interacted with God. When the Father sent Jesus, that interaction changed…a LOT. Now, instead of making sacrifices for various kinds of sin, one single sacrifice would be made for all mankind, for all time, and for all sin. Even though, for us, the all-encompassing sacrifice makes it EASIER to approach God, it can be really hard for anyone who found security and predictability in the animal sacrifices from the age prior.

Jesus came to establish a living, breathing and dynamic relationship between God and man. On that relationship hinges everything. That is NOT what some people wanted! How many times did Jesus chew out the Pharisees because they just didn’t get it? The key here is…Jesus gave what was sufficient, what was good, and what was healthy. Many people hated him for it (and still do), but he loved them and carried on nonetheless.

2. He Had Justice in Mind.

The Son of God broke a lot of societal norms, pretty much everywhere he went. Some probably thought he did it for shock value. He upended tables and went nuts in the temple. He hung out with people that a good and proper society would shun (terminally ill, drunkards, etc) and in general eschewed the rules that the cultural gatekeepers had established.

But it wasn’t shock value that Jesus was after. He was after justice. He knew that it wasn’t right that people were sick, lame, poor, blind, oppressed, unfaithful and greedy. And so he tackled those problems head on, and encouraged his followers to do the same. And here is the kicker:

He did whatever he had to do in order to establish justice wherever he went. He KNEW that he was there for the sick…so he went to the sick.

3. He Put People Over Programs.

This is really key. Jesus never invented a 3-step guide to discipleship. In fact, he never developed a comprehensive plan when it came to his ministry. The objective was simple: Be God with the people.

Jesus was so consumed with knowing the will, face and heart of his Father that he emulated those things. And what does God the father care about? Restoring people in every way possible, most especially into a relationship with Himself.

This doesn’t mean you CAN’T develop a great 3-step plan. It means that you can’t place your great program in a higher seat than God’s heart for His people. We do it a lot, but in the end, God doesn’t care about how great you think your program is. He cares about whether or not you are being His instrument in restoring people. We complicate the mission when we really needn’t bother.

 

When have you seen servant leadership exemplified?

I guess the title really gives it away. I won’t give you any hard and fast rules to live by, namely because each situation is unique. They key ingedient to solving these small disputes (whatever they may be, political, musical, opinion-related, etc) is always grace. Each person has been bought for the highest of prices, has been saved by grace alone, has seen mercy when they deserved wrath, has experienced God’s goodness and is witness to the love of Jesus Christ. All too often we choose to argue over comparitively petty things, and they cause division among us. In 2 Timothy 2:23, Paul says “Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels.” It goes on to say that the Lord’s servant should not quarrel, be able to teach and not be resentful and to be kind. Sometimes, this is an awfully contrasting image when we look at ourselves. So, take that to heart, and ask yourself: “In the grand scheme of salvation and Almighty God, how big is this issue I want to bring up?”

Basically, don’t be so anxious to demand repentance and make everyone see your side. Rejoice in the fact that you are all saved by the blood, and the petty arguments will fade away like they were never there.

Adding Value to Others

This one comes directly from the book “The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership”, written by John C. Maxwell. One of those 21 irrefutable laws speaks of giving value away to others. This, while building value in a team, will in turn build your value.

There are tons of ways that you can do this, and it goes beyond encouraging words. Investing into someone means more than remembering their names and saying “Good job” when they deserve it. Those things are important, but you can take it further and make it mean more.

The tendency is to only focus on a person’s performance or interests as far as the worship team is concerned. However, in order to invest in someone’s life, you need to find out what they get up to outside of the worship team. For instance, let us say that a member has a huge passion for auto mechanics. Have you asked them to show you what they like to work on best? Maybe they work on their own car…have you offered to tag along? Anybody that is passionate about anything is dying to have someone else share it, so by showing more than passing interest, you are actually making a huge investment into the life of that team member. Even buying lunch for someone while giving them an encouraging talk…it means more when you tag on food, trust me. There are tons of ways that you can do this, and it will build relationships much faster than if you had just sat back with a casual approach.

One more example, this time a personal one. A friend of mine whom I go to school with is big into photography. [shameless plug] http://flickr.com/photos/27206973@N08/show/ [/shameless plug] We didn’t really know each other when we first met at the airport, but after hanging around him for a bit, I could see where his passion was. As it turns out, the best way to initiate a friendship here was to ask to tag along when he went out photographing abandoned buildings, since that was his shtick. I learned about taking stellar photos at night (If you haven’t visited his Flickr page yet, do it so you know what I’m talking about), got to hang out in the middle of nowhere in the middle of the night for a few hours, and build a relationship. BUT, more importantly, he was able to share his passion. Now it has extended beyond photography trips, though we still go and do so every now and again.

Sow seeds into potential friendships, and watch God grow them beyond what you thought they could be. This has to be the coolest way of growing a team that I have come across. Get creative, and find the ways you can add value to people; you won’t regret it.

Alrighty, second one for the day. This one will focus a little more on the specific wants of a follower, as opposed to the general principles that a leader should instill in his/her own life. Once again, the resources are from the RCAC, books, and myself. Here is what they want:

To know what is expected. When no clear expectation of performance or direction is laid out, the tendency is to under-perform. Do yourself and your followers a favor, and lay it out clearly at the beginning.

To be recognized for good performance. Not everyone likes this in the same way, but when people do well for a very long time without any form of recognition for their work, performance will decrease. All the glory goes to God in the end, but a person’s efforts shouldn’t go unnoticed. This is key to continued motivation.

To be treated with dignity. They may be your followers, but you wouldn’t be a leader without them. Add value to them (I’ll have a whole post separate just for this idea) and remind them that they are an important part of the team. Don’t forget the sound techs; they often get overlooked in this.

To have opportunities for increased leadership. They don’t necessarily want to lead a service, but they do want to pitch an idea and actually have the team follow through with it. You don’t have to accept every idea, but addressing every one and allowing other members to ‘direct’ a song is a solid approach to building confidence and future leaders.

To enjoy a level of freedom of action. If you don’t let your band take responsibility for their own actions, they won’t grow as worshipers and musicians. Let them be creative, and remember that over-supervision is demoralizing. People might want help, but they never want you (or anyone else) over their shoulder all the time.

To be informed. Changes happen, and when they do, you need to be on the spot with the information. Tell all band members of pertinent information as soon as it becomes available, because this changes the expectation for performance, as discussed at the top. If you don’t know how pertinent it really is and are in doubt, tell them anyway. It won’t hurt to do so.

I am going to start up a series on leading a worship team from a follower’s perspective. Too often, the onus is laid upon the follower to simply be a servant and do what is asked. This is a good thing to teach, but you leaders out there have got to step it up with them! Here are some things you can try that will make your job a LOT easier, and make your band mates follow you out of a sense of desire, not duty. These ideas come from multiple sources, ranging from books to the RCAC curriculum to personal experience. These tips are intended to foster that servant heart you seek in your team.

Patience. This one is tough to have sometimes, when the team as a whole just isn’t getting the groove or someone isn’t listening. Here are some not-so-obvious reasons why your patience is a huge requirement for leading the team:

You need to square with the fact that not every task will go just the way you want it to. Therefore, allow for change to take place. Be ready for non-compliant band members. They might have their own thoughts and ideas, and if you don’t demonstrate patience and willingness to hear them, you will not only lose influence over them, but they will also lose sight of your heart and vision.

Decisiveness. Being able to make a sound and timely decision is one of those things we are afraid to do sometimes because we might step on someone’s toes. In some cases this may be true, but there are some components to this quality of a true leader that might no be readily apparent:

Follow up on that decision, especially if it had to be made at the drop of a hat. The buck stops with you, but that doesn’t mean you make the decision and leave it as is. Once all is said and done, ask your band how they think it went, and LISTEN. Showing that you actually care how it affected the team will go miles in making sure that none of them walk away with hurt feelings or unspoken frustration. Don’t think you can get away without doing this either…even some of the most outspoken people won’t tell you everything unless you are intentional about it and ask.

Confidence. You need confidence in God, your superiors, your followers, your aim and yourself. If you lack that in any of those areas, don’t wait. Build it now. Here is what you might not have realized about confidence:

It is extremely easy to spot a leader who is complacent with any of the above mentioned things. Confidence is very contageous, but a lack thereof is as well. Once you know of your own confidence in these things, make sure that your team has the same. You need to know about issues going on between your team and the church leadership, or if they don’t think that your vision is quite on par. Once you know those things, you can address them face to face. Share WHY you are confident in these things, but think about it first. Communicate that message clearly, and it will be easier for your followers to catch on.

This is by no means the end, and there is much more to come. Until next post!

This is basically a challenge for a post. I have stated similar thoughts before, but I’ll make it official now. I dare you to learn to play an instrument on your worship team that you haven’t played yet. Find some time to practice (I know, it’s tough, but worth it) that instrument until you can nail a few songs. Jam with some firends, to a CD, whatever you need to do. Once you are confident, try asking your worship leader if you can play that instrument, and list off the songs you know. I bet they are more than willing to let you, so long as you know what to play.

What this will do is give you a far better perspective on the music you play. Looking at a statue from a different angle reveals a lot more about the statue! Try doing this again and again, with new instruments. Each one you add to your repetoir will make you more and more versatile, and valuable to any team you play with. You don’t need to be an expert at each instrument, but having a working knowledge of its fundamentals will give you a great leg up. Now, your friendly neighborhood guitarist is gonna go practice bass for this Sunday!

In this session, there were a lot of practical things that were given as to mobilizing youth to worship. It had to do mostly with a youth worship team, so here it goes:

One of the most important things you can do is to set a schedule, and stick to it. I can actually attest to this, because when we were getting our worship team started up, we had no real clear agenda other than to start playing together and get a feel for where our musicians were at. It became apparent only much later that the youth could totally tell that we didn’t really know what to do. They got the impression of directionlessness (wow, there is a mouthful) quite quickly, and from there the motivation could have tanked. Luckily for us it didn’t. So, set that schedule and don’t waver!

Another good point that is actually related more to our church is to make sure that the youth worship team falls under the umbrella ministry of the regular Sunday (or whatever day) worship team as opposed to the youth ministry. Not only does this solve potential accountability problems, but it directly links up the youth with the overall vision of the church, and gives the worship pastor/leader/director more direct oversight and training opportunity. This helps with motivation too, since there is now a direct link established that can allow youth to play on Sundays (see my post about youth in the worship team).

Anyhow, that was really only one point from the actual conference, but you get the idea that treating the youth like adults is really key here. If you want someone to be motivated to do more, you can’t retain responsibility and hold them back until you think they are ready. You have to feed them what they are looking for: potential for leadership or advancement. This might seem like corporate speak, but it makes perfect sense. People are gonna see right through you if you don’t trust them with a task that is beyond what they are used to. Treat them like they are already on a professional worship team, and they’ll act like they are.

Set up for success

Hey folks,

I was JUST having a small conversation about setting people up for success. This is mostly for worship leaders, but valuable for anyone to take into account. When you are picking songs are giving input into which ones should be played, REALLY try and know what the skill/size of you band is. What instruments are playing is also a valuable factor.

If you pick a set that is beyond someone’s ability to play, even after practicing those songs, you really aren’t taking their skills into account enough. You will end up with 2 results. First, your song won’t likely go so smoothly. Second, one or more people will walk off of the stage with handsomely bruised egos. When you run 2 services and they know that those songs will come around again, what level of motivation will those players have?

However, this doesn’t mean you don’t challenge your players. Every player should be aspiring to new heights in not only musicianship, but as worshipers. If you are going to pick a hard song, make sure that your band is at least capable of playing it, and work out the details well before the service.

And so we add one more thing to the balance of the weekly set. You need to remember themes (if any), congregation, skill level of the players…the list goes on.

So it’s been too long

For those that subscribe,

It has been WAY too long since I last posted. I will do my best to keep issues coming, but help me keep accountable. If you have questions or want opinions on stuff, comment or email me, and I’ll make a post of it. With that, on to the topic…

Praise report for you all to chew on…the PSMA worship team is really coming together and being what I call ‘successful.’ So here is my question to you:

What determines the success of a worship team? Is it the ability to nail the technicalities of music and play together? Is it congregational response? Is it attitudes towards one another?

Obviously, not one answer fits all. There are many things that will make a worship team successful. At the same time, there are many things that can draw a team to failure. Even though the reasons may vary, I believe that it is rooted in one core issue, which is selfishness.

It sounds a little like a Sunday school answer, I know. So, to confuse things a little more, we’ll go through it in detail. Selfishness shows itself in a few ways, the most prominent being to play for your own glory. You want people to notice how awesome your pipes are, or how good your solo sounded. While there isn’t anything wrong with playing well, there IS something wrong with playing for yourself. Your music is your offering, and so you need to treat it that way. The purpose of your music is not to lift you up, even though that might/will come without you trying. Just because people compliment your playing doesn’t mean that you are doing anything terribly wrong…it just means that you are playing well. If you are seeking the affirmation of the people and playing well for their sake, your heart is in the wrong spot. Even if you are in a band that isn’t a church worship team, do all things to the glory of God.

Another facet is that of simply not listening to those around you. Playing with other people is often confused with playing in the same room as other people. For the most part, we are good at listening to one another when it comes to starting a song, and maybe ending it. But throughout, the tendency is to do your own thing, and not latch on to and groove with the rest of the band. Now, you don’t want to lose focus on what you are doing, but you must know what is going on around you. You have to know what every single member of your band is doing, at any given time, or else you are just playing in the same room. That is a big part of musicianship that I’m sure most of us are far from perfecting. Try it next time at practice. Begin to anticipate what each instrument will do at a given moment, and try and play off of that. If you can tell the lead guitarist is making a move towards a small solo, maybe its time you backed off and stuck with something more basic to back him/her up. For guitarists especially, listen to the high hat on the drums. It will be your best indicator/foundation of a rhythm to play, if any is required. If the pianist is playing fairly intricate notes, you probably shouldn’t do the same thing and make things more complex. It tends to muddy up the sound and add confusion if everybody is trying to do a solo at once! Even two instruments at once is bad enough.

The basic lesson with this is to know your place. Know it musically. Know when you can surge and ‘take the limelight’, and when to back off. Know that your place as a worshiping member of the congregation is just that. You are no better than anyone in the congregation. You are all there to worship the Lord, and that is all. Should the focus not be on Him, we have some work to do!

Good news

Its been a while since I last posted. For those subscribed or frequently looking in to see the activity, I do apologize. However, I do bring good news.

I guess you could say that I am the positional leader of the aviation chapel band at college. I say positional not because I am only here for the sake of being in charge, but more because I am trying to embrace a ‘displaced leadership’ philosophy. I want others to be in charge of important aspects of the ministry. This is not to take the load off of me, but to develop the sense of ownership, and really keep everyone ‘in the know’ at all times. This is a team, after all.

I know full well that I am incapable of leading this team by my own efforts. My strength has to come from God, but also from the talents of the others around me. I’ve been going through the book “The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership” again, only this time it is the 10th anniversary edition. Revised and updated, this book is an absolute gem and must-have for anyone. In it, among countless bits of valuable advice, John Maxwell notes that the leader’s capability is affected greatly by your inner circle. Since, in this case, the group is so small (only 6 or 7 people at most), everyone counts as part of the inner circle here. So this is the good news…

I had a discussion with all of those available about what we wanted the semester and continuing ministry to look like, and the kinds of ethics we wanted to promote. One of the points I made very quickly was that I wanted everyone to develop a strong sense of musicianship (learning the roles of everyone in a band, learning to listen to one another and hear song dynamics), and really grow in their spiritual lives as they relate to musical worship. Of course, these aren’t the end-all goals of the ministry. They are, however, critical skills for this inner circle to be keen on in order for the ministry to function as it should. To my great delight, those were very well received goals, and the team in general is excited to get the ball rolling and really work as a group of leaders to make a difference in people’s lives. This is a ministry that was sorely needed in our student body, and without the aforementioned excitement of the team, I would be useless.

So now I have a team of excited, talented musicians ready to get out there and use their talents for God, and carve a new path for a brand new ministry. I am really excited for another reason too, though. This has been my first chance in a while to lead people in this way. My last real opportunity was in my days of the Air Cadet program. While fun and rewarding, the politics really got to me, and I never felt like I could utilize a lot of the things I had learned through the program because of it. Here, I am able, with the help of others, to start something new that can impact people’s lives in an awesome way. Beyond that, I’ve learned a lot since my days of cadets. Mixing the hard leadership skills there with a renewed grasp of the concept of character has really provided an excellent blend, and I’m excited to see it in action.

I’ll finish with a direct quote from John Maxwell’s book. “Leaders touch a heart before they ask for a hand.”